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#1 2019-04-19 06:09:31

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SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- At least 17 Indian troopers were killed and over 20 others wounded Sunday in a suicide attack on an Indian military base near Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir, officials said.


Four militants, believed to have carried out the attack, were also killed in retaliatory fire inside the base.


The attack took place at garrison Uri town in frontier Baramulla district, about 109 km northwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.


""We salute the sacrifice of 17 soldiers who were martyred in the operation,"" a statement issued by Indian military said.


According to defense officials, the attackers entered the military base, throwing grenades and using automatic rifles to target troopers.


Locals said they heard loud explosions and saw columns of smoke going up into the sky at the fortification.


""Today morning, a group of heavily armed militants targeted the rear administrative base of a unit at Uri. The tents and temporary shelters which caught fire inside the base resulted in heavy casualties,"" a military spokesman said. ""Four attackers have been eliminated and combing operations are in progress in the area.""


According to the spokesman, the administrative base had large strength of troops stationed in tents and temporary shelters inside it at the time of the attack.


Reports said militants stormed the garrison early Sunday at around 4:00 a.m. (local time), firing bullets and grenades, thereby triggering a fierce gunfight. The militants took different positions inside the fortification to engage the Indian military troopers.


Indian military pressed in helicopters to take on the militants inside the base and airlifted wounded soldiers to the army's main hospital in Srinagar city. The stand-off lasted for several hours.


India's official broadcaster - All India Radio (AIR) said at least 20 troopers were injured in the attack, some of them critically, and they were airlifted to Srinagar for advanced treatment.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the deadly attack and expressed sympathy with the families of the slain troopers.


""We salute all those martyred in Uri,"" Modi wrote on twitter. ""Their service to the nation will always be remembered. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.""


Modi spoke to Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar over the attack. Parrikar has reached Srinagar on Sunday evening to review the security scenario and meet the wounded troopers.


Singh has called an emergency meeting of top defense officials in New Delhi and cancelled his tour to Russia and the United States.


Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag has reached Srinagar following the deadly attack. Suhag, according to reports, has met the wounded troopers and visited Uri base to take stock of situation.


Defense analysts say Uri attack is one of the ""deadliest"" in recent past in the restive region.


In 2014, a similar attack on the military fortification at village Mohra in Uri killed at least eight Indian troopers including their officer and three policemen. Six attackers responsible for the attack were also killed inside the fortification.


A guerrilla war has been going on between militants and Indian troops stationed in the region since 1989. Gunfight between militants and Indian troopers takes place intermittently in the restive region. So far, no militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack.


The attack comes at a time when Indian-controlled Kashmir is grappling with violent unrest. The region has been witnessing the largest protests in recent years since July 8, following the killing of a militant commander in a gunfight with Indian troops.


Authorities have imposed curfew and restrictions to contain street protests, and the region is observing a complete shutdown.


Clashes between civilian protesters and government forces have so far resulted in killing of 80 people, mostly young men and children, besides injuries to thousands of others.


Meanwhile, Indian-controlled Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the attack in Uri seems to be aimed at triggering fresh violence and creating a war-like situation in the region.

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2019-04-19 06:09:31

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